John P. Larson

CEO, Bestop Inc.                           
B.S. Finance, 1984


Steve Hajdukovic

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Somya R. Munjal

When asked to choose a favorite memory of NIU, John Larson says, “all four years.”

Larson is the CEO of Bestop Inc., a premier provider of accessories for jeeps, trucks, and all-terrain vehicles and the world’s leading provider of Jeep convertible tops. He is also the lead director for the board of KAR Auction Services, an automotive auction and finance company.

He enjoys returning to NIU’s campus to speak to students in the College of Business, and says he is proud of “the great job the College of Business does in developing young professionals.”

Larson spent twenty years in key management positions at General Motors, including overseeing the Buick, Pontiac, and GMC truck divisions and acting as the general director of finance for U.S. sales, service, and marketing operations. He received several Chairman’s Honors Awards and was recognized for his involvement in the post-9/11 Keep America Rolling promotion and for leading the development of GM’s revenue management activity. Larson and his team also received a number of prestigious industry awards, including the Golden Lion at Cannes, the industry’s highest global marketing award, and Advertising Age’s Best Promotions of the Year award.

In 2008, Larson left GM and was named CEO of Escort Inc., an industry-leading automotive electronics company. Under his six years of leadership, Escort received multiple national awards for innovation, including Car and Driver’s 10 BEST Automotive Innovations, SEMA’s Best New Mobile Electronics Product, and the Consumer Electronic Show’s Mobile Electronics Innovation Award. In addition to the product awards, Larson worked with private equity ownership, recapitalized the business, aggressively grew Escort’s highly regarded direct-to-consumer model, and took Escort through a successful sales process.

Larson has been involved in a number of charitable activities, and is extremely proud to be an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children. He has been recognized for his work with both the VFW National Home for Children and the A Million Thanks Foundation to honor military personnel.

He has been the keynote speaker at the National Leadership Education and Development Program(LEAD) and in the Krannert School of Management Executive Leadership Series at Purdue. He serves on the dean’s advisory council at the Krannert School of Management and lectures regularly at the NIU College of Business.



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